Monday, July 09, 2007

Picasso & Ben:
Understanding Exceptional Kids
Part 1

As a parent of an exceptional child I’m most thankful for my art education . Honest to God I don’t think I could deal very well with our situation had I not spent all of those hours listening to lectures in class or studying hundreds of slides showing images of the current “movement” (not the bowel kind) discussed in class the day before. Wherever you are Dr. Sorensen I appreciate these things the most:
1. Your friendship
2. Your vast knowledge.
3. Not flunking me during the Renaissance Period when I was bored to tears.

Of all modern artists Pablo Picasso is probably the most well known and yet the most misunderstood. His work spans almost a century and serves as a transition from Impressionism into our own present day interpretation of art with stops at all points in between. Thirty-four years after his death Picasso’s work continues to be interesting, amusing, controversial, and fresh. The viewer either hates it or loves it depending upon their perception of his strong persona. Little did I know back in my college days that my appreciation of his work would help me and my family understand our special needs child.

There are many anecdotes attributed to Picasso. One of my favorites involves an encounter with an American GI in WWII. Although many sources verify the exchange there are several versions of it. My favorite goes like this: “The soldier says he dislikes Picasso’s kind of art with its distortions and stylization and dislocations. ‘What sort of art do you like?’ asked Picasso. The GI pulled out a black & white photograph of his girlfriend and presented it to the artist, who gazed at it and asked, ‘Is she really this small and lacks nay kind of color?’ “ The great artist makes his point and at the same time gives the GI (whether he knows it or not) a bit of insight into Picasso’s creative mindset.

My favorite quote of his simplifies an artistic philosophy I totally agree with: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I find it ironic and most interesting that Nurse Lisa and me shared a conversation earlier this afternoon about theology. For a few moments we speculated about what Heaven might be like. I told her I had a clear image of what I would love for it to be.

Given my limited human understanding of God I have to put into context and meaning that I would be familiar with. Simply enough I would like to return to the summers of my youth when I was 7 or 8 years old. That would the years 1970 and 1971.

In the adult world those were tumultuous times. The Vietnam War was still raging. Although race relations were slowly improving they were a far cry from what they are today. After all my own school system here in South Carolina had only been integrated for about two years. The political scene was extremely bitter with controversial candidates already lining up for the 1972 elections. And of course the sexual revolution was just beginning. All of that was so very foreign to me.

Those summers my best friend was my own brother Cameron while my youngest brother was just toddling. Cameron and I had an ever-growing baseball card collection. Our neighborhood friends and we played baseball in our backyard from sun up to sundown. We rode bikes on our “off days” and cornered the Popsicle truck late in the afternoons. We played with our GI Joe’s and explored our universe as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy.

The really great adventures were our trips to my grandparents’ place in the mountains of north Greenville, which was perfectly named “Paradise.” There was a lake to swim and fish in. My grandfather raised horses so we rode the trails around their place just like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. We caught fireflies after dark and ate homemade ice cream just before bed. And the best part was getting to wake up the next morning just to do it all again.

As these images were crossing my brain like a slideshow Lisa verbally stated the terminology to define that age: “innocence.” I looked at her and took it just a bit further. “We weren’t yet jaded.”

Tomorrow: Part 2. Stick with me folks. This is truly important for me to relate and it ain't easy but I promise it'll give you more insight into our relationship with Ben!


Nurse Lisa said...

My idea of heaven...being next door neighbors to all the great friends I've met in this life! Guess we won't be 30 minutes away when we get there!!!

I've asked the few people I have been holding the hands of as they passed into that wonderful new home, "Make sure the lot next door is vacant, cuz I'll be joining you before you know it! And if you get time, you can start on my house...I'd like lots of precious gems to reflect the wonderful light into beautiful rainbows throughout my house!"

BTW-do the fireflies here have the lights that smear when you squish it? or are they the ones w/ the green light and they "pop" when you flip them on their backs? I guess I've been too much of an adult since I've lived in SC :(

moosh in indy. said...

I for one lurves Picasso. I do love my Klimt and VanGogh even more so. I'm interested to see where this goes.